Nicaragua Visit: Fair Trade, Strong Faith

Deacon Kevin Carges is a permanent deacon for the Diocese of Rochester. He traveled to Nicaragua as part of the Global Fellows program.

Today was a tremendous day as we met with those who are part of PRODECOOP , a group of over 2,300 participants. Each producer on average has a family of five, thus the lives of over 10,000 people are being touched in some way with the support of CRS.

Nicaragua visit

Deacon Kevin Carges (right) and Fr. James Conlon listen to a local coffee farmer as he explains how PRODECCOP has helped increase his production and sales. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

They have been able to work together as community establishing better growing techniques that have resulted in all benefitting. Opportunities with Fair Trade have greatly enhanced their status in life. Producers create better quality coffee thus resulting in better prices paid for their crops and resulting in better living standards for the people.

I think the corporate executive of the company said it best, “We are trying to make the family strong.” What a wonderful statement of solidarity. With the additional income, they are working towards empowering women, establishing medical support, making sure the children receive an education and addressing environmental concerns among other things.
All are welcome, all are cared for, and they understand that all will flourish as a result.

I think sometimes we in the powerful countries of the First World feel like the superior ones, having all the money and that we can teach the Third World (how to do it right). But after meeting with PRODECOOP today, I think it is they who should be showing us how to do it right. They are the ones who understand how God is calling us to live. We are all one family under God. We should all work towards making this family strong!

Nicaragua coffee

Coffee trees which were planted as part of CRS’ initiative with PRODECCOP. Photo by Mikaele Sansone/CRS

A prayer reflection upon leaving:

Dear Lord, what can we do as mere humans, but give you thanks and praise for the experience of Nicaragua that you have blessed us with.

Ten of us came together less than two weeks ago, unfamiliar with each other, traveling to a place we did not know, to encounter the unseen and what was yet to happen. All we had was faith in You and Your servant CRS to guide us.
Upon our arrival in Nicaragua and over the days, we were astounded by your beauty, taught by your wisdom, humbled by your love, and filled with your hope. How can we not leave this country shouting from our hearts of your great majesty.
We answered Your call by faith, and in response, we were rewarded with Your abundant grace, and blessed by drawing ever closer to You, our Savior.

As we separate and go our individual ways, we will always share this special gift of Nicaragua and be reminded, we are all one family. We leave in faith to continue on our journey, and to share our experiences of You, through the beauty of a country, and the love and hope of our brothers and sisters.

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